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Development of a Grape Community of Practice for the Extension Service


The long term goals of this project are to fulfill the eXtension requirements for becoming a Community of Practice. These requirements include: <UL> <LI> Database of Frequently Asked Questions (minimum of 100) <LI> Established protocol for "Ask the Expert" answers <LI> Curriculum outline for content <LI> Information pages (minimum of 250) <LI> Interactive learning modules <LI> Events such as workshops <LI> Subject area content creation <LI> News </ul>
The critical need of the grape community of interest is access to reliable, research-driven information. Access to diverse national expertise, comprehensive content and unique features (FAQs, AtE, etc.) not found on regional websites, would be the draw of this COP. Many producers seek knowledge from available on-line sources that may or may not be credible. <P>
Even though those in the general public with an agricultural background are aware of the Cooperative Extension Service and the information it provides, many outside of that circle are unaware of or do not have access to Cooperative Extension or its resources. Therefore, this critical need can be met through the creation of a GCoP to provide critical information through creative and accessible delivery methods. <P>
The initial meeting of the GCoP will generate the development of a list of FAQ and Ask the Expert topics. Regional and subject-specific content will be discussed and committees to participate will be initiated. These will be the short-term outcomes prior to the 2010 GCoP/NVEELC.<P>
The expected outcome is that a GCoP will contribute substantially to the long-term profitability of new and current grape producers through expedient access to proven methods and the most up-to-date research available on all aspects of viticulture and enology. Sustainability of grape production will be further impacted as the GCoP membership expands and integrates participation from not only viticulture experts, but those who are leaders in the fields of plant pathology, entomology, weed science, postharvest physiology, food safety, meteorology, soil science, and others. Sustainability of the GCoP will be a high priority as well. <P>
Important partnerships with universities, other educational institutions, and grape-related organizations will be explored. Sponsorships with chemical companies, state wine and grape organizations, nurseries, wholesale operations, and processors will be explored to raise funds for continuation and expansion of the GCoP. External grants funding will also be applied for to supplement efforts.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Our objective is to establish a Grape Community of Practice (GCoP) that will develop a national science-based repository of grape production information for the eXtension system that is readily available to the community of interest to increase short-term success and improving long term productivity and profitability. Much of the information already exists in a variety of forms and locations, but an eXtension GCoP will collect, archive and organize existing information, and create new resources to facilitate effective content delivery. The proposed GCoP project will deliver research based information to clientele as a way of supplementing and improving upon the traditional cooperative extension service model. The current model is effective, but the online accessibility of a grape eXtension project will increase visibility of the service as a whole and reach new audiences previously unfamiliar with how cooperative extension operates and give the public access to a national group of experts in grape production. The GCoP will foster collaboration among institutions throughout the extension network by enhancing technological capabilities resulting in increased outreach, impact, and recognition. The initial foci would be to establish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) database, an Ask the Expert protocol, and create information pages which would encompass questions pertaining to basic and advanced topics in viticulture. The GCoP will create a partnership of several land-grant institutions that currently provide viticulture information, but will now place repackaged and new information into the eXtension system. Individuals from several institutions have identified themselves as willing participants in this endeavor.

APPROACH: The Coordinating Committee will develop a draft curriculum outline for content that will be vetted by the full GCoP at the first joint GCoP/NVEEL conference. The draft curriculum will be completed before the 2010 meeting with review by the members of the proposed GCoP at the meeting. The database of FAQs will be created by the working group assigned to its development in cooperation with the Coordinating Committee during and following the GCoP/NVEELC. The initial listing of 100 questions will be peer-reviewed by the membership at large. A protocol for "Ask the Expert" (AtE) answers will be established by the Coordinating Committee prior to the 2010 GCoP/NVEELC and amended as necessary during the conference. A working group of specific subject areas will then be charged with following through with responses to questions and relay of those questions (if appropriate) to the FAQ working group for inclusion in the FAQ database. Already existing and new information pages (a minimum of 250) will be assembled by the Extension Associate once the information has been reviewed and approved by the working group and the Coordinating Committee. This process of peer-review will eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort and strengthen material content before release through the eXtension system. Because much of this content already exists on other state-based websites, transfer to the eXtension system should occur, at least in part, before the end of this proposal period. Interactive learning modules will be discussed and a working group formed to investigate implementation of modules and the content they will deliver. This will be a longer term objective with content outlines and framework beginning in the second year with actual development starting in year three. New modules will need to be created to cover appropriate material. Already existing concepts may need to be reworked in order to fit the eXtension model. GCoP members who have had experience in creating similar modules will have the task of making this available in conjunction with the Extension Associate and Coordinating Committee. Members will continue to be recruited and added as the GCoP develops. Each committee and working group will comprise national and regional teams that will follow through development of appropriate material for delivery of eXtension web content. The methodology of this is likely to be accomplished through a variety of communication avenues such as email, instant messaging, a GCoP Wiki, and telephone. These methods are not the only possibilities, and others may exist or come into being that will be just as useful in creating the GCoP for the eXtension system. Face-to-face meetings of the PD, Co-PDs, Collaborators, and proposed viticulture extension associate will be on an annual (or possibly more frequent) basis. A face-to-face meeting of the other representative members will be on an annual basis at the joint NVEEL and GCoP conference.

Stafne, Eric
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
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